Teaching your daughter how to handle girl drama
I have two daughters which means two weddings and lots of girl time. It also means lots of girl drama.
Call me naive or clueless, but I didn’t expect the drama to start until mid to late elementary school. I especially didn’t expect it to start affecting my daughter in pre-school! But regardless of my expectations that’s exactly what it did.
Over the past year as my daughter went through pre-kindergarten the drama would come and go. She would get in the car after school and tell me that a little girl who was her best friend yesterday told her that she didn’t like her anymore. She talked about a boy that wouldn’t leave her and her friends alone on the playground. And she came home telling me that no one would play with her on the playground because one of the little girls told everyone that they weren’t allowed to play with her.
As situations arose over the year I took each opportunity to discuss it with my daughter. I’ve found that after teaching her some essential building blocks of friendships she is starting to practice some of the directions without my prompting.
Carve out a time and place for talking
My husband and I have instituted one-on-one time talking with our daughter. We call it “Talk Time” and it occurs once a week with each parent after bedtime. This is our chance to spend concentrated time sharing our hearts with her and letting her share hers with us. We talk often during the week, but these are the times when she really opens up to us.
Let her know that she can discuss anything with you
I often tell my daughter that she can ask me or tell me anything. She’s five, we’re not into hard issues, but she knows that when we talk I will be truthful in an age-appropriate way with her and will help her resolve problems. Right now this just means asking about words she doesn’t understand or telling me about something that she didn’t handle correctly on the playground. But hopefully, by opening those lines of communication early we can continue to have frank and honest discussions as the issues get harder.
Help her understand that no one can tell her or anyone else what to do
When I tell her this she’s quick to add in the caveats (except parents and teachers and God, etc) but I remind her that I’m talking about her peers. The little girl who told everyone else that they couldn’t play with her? No one had to obey her and neither does my daughter.
When the boy was roaring at her and her friends as he ran after them we discussed that maybe he wanted to play with them but didn’t know how to ask. The next week my daughter and the boy became big buddies because instead of running away from him, she stopped and talked to him. By helping her put herself in his shoes she was able to respond in a way that eliminated the underlying cause of the problem.
Have her take responsibility for her actions
When my daughter is acting out because she’s tired or upset, I remind her that she can remove herself from the situation but she can not act ugly towards me or anyone else just because she doesn’t feel good. She needs to know that just because she has an excuse for an action doesn’t mean that she’s excused for that action.
Allow her to make the decision on how to proceed when appropriate
When the girl was telling others that they couldn’t be my daughters friend and this continued for over a week, I asked my daughter if I could discuss it with the teacher. My daughter told me that she wanted to talk to her teacher about it instead. This was not my preferable course of action, but I allowed her to take the actions to resolve the issue and just continued to listen as she spoke without insisting on taking any action myself.
Remind her that even when she messes up, you will always love her
My daughter is confident that I will still be there for her even when she makes mistakes. Does that mean that she won’t have consequences? No. But it does mean that when she makes the wrong decision, she can come to me for help in figuring out how to correct it.
Jennifer Elwell is a Mom of three who wants her children to grow up to be passionate about Christ. She believes in kindness and honesty and wants her children to see her as their Mom but also as a woman who is in love with Christ. To show them what being a woman of God means, she spends her time creating designs for her stationery shop (she did my Christmas card this year!) and volunteering for things that she feels make a difference in her world. Jennifer is also passionate about letting other Mom’s know that they are not alone in their struggles and so strives to encourage Mom’s through her shop and blog. You can keep up with her and her family on her blog, Tales of a Peanut.